So here we are approaching spring and I would like to update the previous blog in order for you to see how the areas I altered recently (See Diary Update 15th-29th Oct 2012) have changed.
Over the last 5 months I have taken significant advantage of the poly-tunnel (and glass house) having the extra space undercover to order in plants as small modules from a trade supplier called Barrett’s Bridge Nursery in Cambridgeshire. It is possible to pick up all manner of perennials as plug plants however I focused on gathering for specific areas in the garden that need improvement long term such as the waterfall, the cut flower garden and other various borders which require plants ‘en masse’.
Plants I have grown on from plugs for the cut flower garden include Monarda didyma, Anchusa azuruea, Verbena bonariensis, Delphinium (3 varieties), Digitalis and Helenium (2 varieties). Plants for the waterfall include more low growing plant cover such as Phlox, Dianthus, Delosperma (2 varieties), Wahlenberia albomarginata and Iberis sempervirens ‘Snowflake’. I have also grown Primula polyantha ‘Victoriana Gold Lace’ to add colour in early spring to the pillar garden and I am also growing an abundance of climbing plants such as Lathyrus latifolium (3 varieties) and Passiflora (3 varieties), to benefit areas where trellis needs covering throughout.
As a self-employed gardener it is important for me to be able to create a visual experience to my client in order to receive extra funds to be able to purchase plants and a great way to do this is by using a social media site called Pinterest. When you become a member (free) you can ‘pin’ any online picture to your own picture boards and then share the link with your client. Here is a link to my Pinterest page which my client has access to at any time allowing him the opportunity to see what the future holds for his garden. (TheLoneGardener)
During March to September the poly-tunnel will be transformed again to house tomatoes, cucumbers, salad leaves, lettuces and peppers and for the long term we have under cover strawberries, peaches and nectarines. I am also growing carnations permanently in here so as to extend the cut flower season in order to supply cut flowers to the house and it also offers me more space to store tender plants that would normally be in the garden in the growing season.
Most recently we have continued to aerate the soil adding more organic matter to the border where necessary and have now covered the entire area with a bark mulch in order to suppress weeds and also retain moisture to prevent the soil from drying out.
The Heuchera have been a great investment offering an abundance of colour throughout the winter when other plants have been cut back. I have also reluctantly included two 2m tall Salix babylonica to close a space between the conifers which as it was a request from my client I felt obliged to carry out although I advised that these trees require a lot of water and with the conifers in such close proximity might struggle to perform to their best. We have also had recent issues with willow anthracnose which affects the look of the tree’s leaves however sometimes we have to accept a client’s wishes irrespective of advising against it.
From the pictures we can see what this area looked like prior to October 2012 and determine that the slope is too high to begin with, so I had to reduce the height by 50% then build up a wall of slate around the base to add structure and eventually planted the area with Erica darlyensis.It is important to use alkaline friendly heathers like Erica darlyensis rather than Erica carnea which are acid loving plants.
Heather Hill has now become one of the more successful areas of the garden this year after much trauma in trying to plant appropriately to cope with the severe climatic conditions we endure due to being on high ground. Finding the solution to this problem involved much research as highlighted by my previous blog including soil analysis and liaison with the plant supplier (Kingfisher Nursery – trade only) before purchasing. Now as the months have progressed so has the colour of these wonderful plants which have now been flowering for well over 7 weeks already and for those that were wondering it took 600 plants in total, I under-estimated by 300 plants.
For those working out the cost without labour, materials and plants came to approximately £1700 covering just less than 30 square metres! On the opposite side to the heathers I have planted 2500 Russian snowdrops, Puschkinia scilloides and intend to sow poppy seed in a few weeks’ time.
Walking past this area offers me a feeling of satisfaction especially when just a few days ago I could hear it humming and on closer analysis observed somewhere in the region of 100 bees all collecting pollen from the flowers. To see nature working after human manipulation in my eyes is the true picture of success and given that this area had caused so many complications in the last 2 years I am glad to finally move on.
So with any luck the weather will start to improve and I can start planting out the 1200 plants I have nurtured over the winter months hopefully living up to the expectations of my client since his viewing of my pin-board at ‘PInterest’. Another interesting development is that my client is now in a position to hold events at his garden without embarrassment should he wish to do so and we are hoping to engage with a local events organisation in regards to holding future wedding receptions so as my client can reclaim some sort of income in order to carry on employing a gardener throughout his retirement.
If you are in the Hertfordshire area and feel that The Lone Gardener could be of benefit to your garden please do not hesitate to contact me directly via firstname.lastname@example.org
Many thanks for your time, Paul, AKA The Lone Gardener